Wilt Chamberlain Vertical – Did Wilt Really Have A 40+ Inch Vertical Jump?


Wilt Chamberlain Vertical Jump

October 23, 2018 in NBA Vertical Jump Analysis

Wilt 'the Stilt' Chamberlain is the only man to have scored 100 points in a single NBA game. 

He is known as the most dominant center to ever play the game.

The most impressive fact is that Wilt was 7'1” tall and had a rumored vertical jump of over 40 inches.

In fact Wilt Chamber once claimed in an interview that his vertical, during his prime, was "46 to 48 inches, easy."

In this post we will determine Wilt Chamberlains vertical jump height once and for all.


“"What's unfortunate is that most people regard the great leapers as being only the short guys who could dunk," "My sergeant [vertical leap test] was higher than Michael Jordan’s vertical. When I went to Kansas, they had a 12-foot basket in the gym, because Dr. Phog Allen was advocating the 12-foot basket. I used to dunk on that basket. It was an effort, but I could do it.” Wilt Chamberlain


Wilt Chamberlain Vertical Jump Height 

Exactly How High Could Wilt Chamberlain Jump?

People have speculated that Wilt Chamberlain's vertical jump height was at one time over 48+ inches, yet the exact details of his jump height have been unclear.

The only real evidence of Wilt Chamberlain's vertical jump in action is from old grainy films. The camera angles used in these films can be very deceptive. 

Unlike the modern NBA player vertical jumps we have analysed we don't have access to great zoom in footage of Wilt's vertical jump shot at super slow motion.

There are however some interesting photos highlighting Wilt Chamberlain's vertical jump. Let's take a look.

Wilt Chamberlain Vertical Jump Analysis: Photo 1
How High Could Wilt Chamberlain Jump

From this photo you can see that Wilt's head is pretty much level with the rim.

Since we know that Wilt Chamberlain stood 7 feet 1 inch tall we can calculate that if he could jump with his head level to the 10 ft rim he would have a vertical jump height of 35 inches.

This is much lower than the 48+ inch vertical jump height that he was rumored to possess.

Vertical Jump Testing has revealed than the average modern NBA player has a vertical jump height of 28 inches.

Therefore, even if 35 inches was near Wilt's max vertical he would still possess a vertical jump height well above the NBA average.

If Wilt could jump over 48 inches high he’d be able to get his neck over the rim.

After reviewing hours of Wilt Chamberlain footage I am yest to see him get his head significantly above the rim.

It is important to consider that with his wingspan he could have easily touched the top of the backboard even with a 35 inch vertical jump.

Note: Find out how tall you have to be to dunk based on your wingspan.

“I defy anyone to say they took change off the top of the backboard,". "I could. Someone would put a quarter up and I'd snatch it down. I've heard stories about Jackie Jackson doing it, but I've never seen anyone (but himself) come close,". Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain Real Vertical Jump Height

From the footage you just saw it is is safe to assume that Wilt Chamberlain had a max vertical jump of around 35-40 inches.

However, this does not take anything away from the legend that was Wilt Chamberlain.

He was still, by all accounts the strongest NBA player to ever live.

In his prime he lifted Arnold Schwarzenegger up with one arm.

So how did Wilt Chamberlain jump so high?

Well he was obviously genetically gifted.

He also spent a lot of time lifting weights to allow him to jump higher.

About the author 

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  • In 1958, Look Magazine measured Wilts vertical while he was a student at Kansas. The published article reported Wilt had a standing reach of 9 foot 6. He had a reach after jumping of 13 feet 3 inches. Do the math. That is a confirmed 45 inch vertical. It is also proof that Wilt could reach 3 inches higher than the top of the backboard (13 feet).

    • Yet there’s not one photo of his head anywhere near 10″ above the rim, which is what it would be if he actually had a 45″ vertical. With Wilts ego there’d be photos and videos of him getting his entire head over the rim if he actually could..but he couldn’t…head at rim is the best he’s done on any photo…35″ vertical is what he had, still brilliant

    • Well, using Look Magazine as a proof it’s not a good idea, ha slot of flaws in all of other news.

      And even using it as a “proof”, that’s the problem. It’s just a man saying he watched it, but no pics? Nothing? They were in the 1950s, not in 1400s. If Wilt would’ve had a +45 inch vert he could put his ENTIRE HEAD and NECK over the rim. There’s 0 pics and actual proof not only about that, there’s also 0 proof with the top of his head over the rim.

    • Bubby Baube says:

      Wilt Chamberlain Archives produced a video in 2013. The author of the video wanted to estimate his incredible vertical.

      He based his video on his NCAA high jumping record which was 6’6.75.

      We know exactly Chamberlain’s Central Point of Pelvis (CPP) was 45.75″. To put his CPP @6’6.75″ (or 78.75″), Wilt Chamberlain needed to elevate between 39.6″& 40.35″ in order to clear the bar. It is important to note that Wilt Chamberlain always failed to clear 6’7″ in competition.

      According to Wilt Chamberlain Archives, his highest reach with a running start was measured at 12’9″ or 13′ [according to Google Archives], while he was playing for the Philadelphia Warriors at a mere 250 pounds. With a standing reach of 9’6″ barefoot, Wilt Chamberlain “only” needed to jump 39.6″ in the air in order to reach 12’9… and even if Wilt Chamberlain was able to almost reach 13′, his sergeant would be under 43″.

      The 13’3 was never measured by any mean. Look like a fishing tale story to me.

      Like Jordan, 48″ isn’t realistic or accurate. If Jordan was able to jump 48″.

      BTW, after Chamberlain bulked up, he was able to maintain his jumping ability, which is very surprising, because most players lost a few inches after they added muscle mass to their frame.

  • Even in that first pic, the angle is off because he’s way in front of the basket and even then his head is below the rim. Look at the players behind him. He has a 30+ leap and that’s it. His long arms make it look like more. Laughable myths about him. Very overrated.

  • Well the thing is why would wilt Jump his highest if not needed

  • Those images didn’t show the max he could jump..when a player goes up to block a shot, it definitely would be less than a standing jump he had time to coordinate and time his leap.

  • these videos show Wilt trying to block a shot..now let’s make a fair comparison to a standing and well timed coordinated jump vs running at someone and leaping to block a shot, it doesn’t take to much thought that a standing well timed jump would be much higher than a running jump.

      • You’re obviously not a speller.

  • a vertical and running and jumping use to be considered different when I was growing up. your vertical is jumping straight in the air without bending your knees. The bottom of your feet to the floor was considered your vertical. Now they are running and jumping and touching something to determine it. Vertical means straight up. Not moving forward than up. Because your not going vertical. Your than traveling at an arc and trying to measure the top of the arc is difficult. So in my opinion none of this footage shows his true vertical. I would imagine it would be lower than what this footage is showing. Before you argue go test it.

  • 1440minutes says:

    Incorrect. Here’s Wilt jumping off one leg in a game. His neck is above the basket. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JC6ahiLDL4 That’s at least 45 inches vertical in crappy Converse sneakers. In his later years, he blocked Jabbar’s skyhook many times.

    • cosmoeticalist says:

      Avr human head is 9 inches- so at 7-1 his neck wd be at 6’4. 1o ft to rim. 10′ minus 6-4 = 3 feet 8 inches, or 44″ min.

    • HIs neck is not above the basket. An illusion of perspective.


  • James Griego says:

    From your research all yoi can say is that ~35″ is the max you can estimate, not the highest he could jump. To block shots you dont jump aa high as possible, you jump to an intercept trajectory. Just as he pointed out he jumped differently to dunk on a 12 foot goal. Why not do the math to calculate the high point of a jump that allowed Wilt to dunk free throws. How high does he have to jump from the free throw line to still be high enough to dunk. As far as grabbing coins from a back board, David Thompson did that as the half time show for the ABA Denver Nuggets. MJ had to run from back court to jump from feee throw line providing much more forward momentum. Now that calculation and comparison with MJ would actually tell you something.

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